You are here

Lisa-Maria Sommer

What are you leading?

Together with 2 other Teach For Austria alumni – Julian Richter and Nina Poxleitner - I founded the social business MORE THAN ONE PERSPECTIVE (MTOP). MTOP’s mission is to make refugees´ potential accessible to the labor market, connect refugees to companies and break down negative stereotypes. MTOP offers an advanced training program that offers various workshops, training and mentoring to prepare highly qualified refugees for 6 months to enter the labor market in Austria. We enable them to find work suited to their skills, knowledge and experience and connect them to companies. This also helps employers to find talent and increase the diversity of their staff. We started our first program in October 2016. Since then more than 100 associates (that is how we call our participants) have joined the program. By now we already have 30 alumni. 80% of our alumni have started an internship or job in 20 different companies e.g. Deloitte, Western Union, Strabag – just to name some of our partners.

See our film for more details.

How did your experiences as a fellow inspire or prepare you for what you’re doing now?

On a personal level my time at NMS Wendstattgasse has been the most formative and inspiring in my life. Enabling children to overcome existing obstacles and supporting them to work towards a promising career made me realize that impact can be triggered by one person on a small scale even in a stagnant system. However, what I was confronted with in school was less the consequence of a malfunctioning school system but more the consequence of non-integration. It became clear to me that if we hold on to existing measures of integration we will inevitably face problems on different levels in the near future.

Julian Richter and Nina Poxleitner experienced the fellowship in a very similar way and that was the beginning of MTOP.

First of all, during my time with Teach for Austria I got to know many inspirational people who are willing to make a change. I think the community Teach for Austria creates and the spirit within really enables a drive for change. To meet those people, especially Julian and Nina, was the first and I think most important step for MTOP to start off in the beginning, as founding with the right people is crucial for success.

Being in the class room teaches you to master the learning-by doing approach and to continuously improve what you’re doing, always questioning if it leads to the intended impact. I think this is a major skill to create the desired change through the right actions within society. 

The spirit of the Teach for Austria community also gave me/us the strength to not only come up with an idea, but really come from our vision to action.

What is more, Teach for Austria supported MTOP, especially in the beginning, in many ways. For the first 6 months they provided us with office space to really kick start our project. Until today they support us in questions concerning legal contracts, network partners, etc. and serve as a very valuable sparing partner. 

What's next?

With MTOP we want to see integration in a different perspective and reveal the potential that lies within. In the long run this shall contribute to a society, where – no matter where you come from – you have the same opportunities as everyone else on the labor market and within the society.

This also relates back to the vision of Teach for Austria – all children have access to excellent education. 

Alumni info

Alumni Cohort

2014

Current Home

Austria

Subject(s) Taught

Mathematics, History, Music, Nutrition and an elective class called "Powerhouse of Ideas"

Leadership Journey

2014

Became a fellow with Teach for Austria

2016

Julian Richter, Nina Poxleitner and I decided to found our own social business after our fellowship

2016

Official start of the first MTOP program with 10 associates

2016

Received the first public funding

2017

Started the second and the third MTOP program with 60 associates

2017

MTOP grows – Haia, a refugee from Syria joins MTOP as Marketing and Community Manager

2017

Won the Social Impact Award Austria

2017

Received the second public funding

2017

80% of MTOP alumni have entered the labor market

2018

Named among the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list together with Nina – Julian unfortunately turned 30 the year before

2018

The 4th MTOP program starts – we hit the 100 associates mark

2018

Seeing the MTOP team growing, Lisa joins the MTOP team fulltime as program manager and Ramona and Elisabeth as part time sales support.

Support

2016

Teach for Austria provided us with office space